Tune Your Training, Part 2: At-Home Environment

We’ve just come off of launching the first ever online Swordplay Masterclass for January. Devon and I worked our tails off to put together an awesome program, and you responded! We’re eager to get things started. Thanks to everyone for giving their feedback and letting us know exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to your sword fighting practice and online learning.
One of the Masterclass pre-course bonus modules covers setting up your at-home training environment. It’s an important topic, and I’d like to share here some of its points with you.

Reducing Friction in your Space

There are a lot of reasons for not training at home, we sometimes tell ourselves. The TV is on, my family is around, the fridge is more inviting. But how to counter those arguments, and make it (nearly) effortless to transition into practising at home?
One way is to designate a space for training, and work to make it both practical and inspiring.

  • if it’s a multi-purpose room, the furniture is easily moved (Teflon sliders under coffee tables are a must!)
  • swords and sword-like-objects are nearby in easy reach
  • your journal or training plan is easily accessible
  • put up a inspiring work of art (historical or modern) that reminds you of your dream

Getting Feedback on Your Form

It’s hard to get better without seeing yourself objectively. The first place to start is by setting up a mirror. They move/slide/swivel into place easily and can usually hide behind a door when not needed.
Another great tool is one you likely have—a video camera, whether a dedicated unit or part of your phone. It’s daunting to press that record button when really seeking a critical eye on the subject (you!), but after getting over a little shyness you will love digging into the details of how you shape your limbs and move your body around. You can also compare your video to a technical reference (like a video clip here on Duello.TV). Is that what I really look like?
Having a coach or mentor to share your videos with is an excellent way of getting feedback remotely. Set the camera far enough away (or use a wide-angle lens) that you can film the entire action/sequence. Sometimes you need to move just a little slower so that the sword doesn’t become just a blur. Lots of lighting can help, or record at a higher frame rate. Make sure your sword is clean and shiny is so it can catch the light and receive maximum style points!

Swords and Sword-Like Objects

A few of us probably have an indoor space big enough to swing a sword in. I live in a pretty small cabin—a high enough ceiling, but not a lot of square footage. I’ve got plenty of outdoors but it’s freezing these days and, unless I’m up for a Hoth-style workout, I need to have a frictionless plan for indoor training.
I have a tire on a post outside that works great for my steel swords. I also have a synthetic nylon longsword that feels pretty good in the hands, and won’t gouge the furniture or the floor. I also recently set myself up with a super-cheap trainer: steel pipe! I love thrift.
It turns out that a 30-inch piece of 3/4 pipe weighs just a little more than a longsword (or beefy rapier). Putting some grip (hockey!) tape on a 10-inch end will put the balance point 5 inches in front of your hands, not too dissimilar to a full-length blade. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like moving around a real sword. But in a tight space I can lunge and move pretty freely and still stay a safe distance from walls, windows and appliances!

An arming sword taped to a tripod, or a dowel protruding from couch cushions makes an improvised partner simply and easily. So much benefit of solo training lies in the endless hours spent moving the sword around your “partner’s” blade with precision and smoothness.
So what do you do for home training? Do you have some crazy duct-tape-bailer-twine improvised gear, or a very sophisticated setup? Something in between? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Let us know!
Enjoy your training, everyone. Cheers!

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